My father, Allen Medford Fink, died of lung cancer in 1986 at age 72. He was not an easy man. As I explained once to an adult nephew, he was our father, so we wanted to be close to him, but it could be a dangerous place to stand. He taught us to be strong. But as I grow older myself, I can see that if my brother and I are, in our own ways, more gentle, well, he must certainly have given us the seeds of this gentleness as well.
My father was 42 years old when I was born, so he was dead by the time my sons Patrick and Nathan were born. But his presence remains. In the Buddhist cosmology, the “three times” of past, present and future and not as solid as we ordinarily take them to be. Perhaps this is how I know that if he were to meet my sons today, I am certain he would be amazed. I am certain that he would be most pleased.
My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.
Written April 2015 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah —
is beginning to howl
a late season snow coming in.
by morning, everything
will be blown back
I remember my father
staring out the kitchen window,
massive and simmering,
considering the evening sky.
he left the farm just before the war-
came North, but never lost the habit
of watching the clouds
for signs of impending danger
of flashing from sun into thunder
with no warning.
we’re grateful for the snow-
it’s been dry here for too long.
redemption can come
through the blessings of rain
of a rain that falls hard all day
of a rain that might protect us
from the lightning
from rage without warning
from the flames
hat can race up from the valley
and sweep us all away